As mentioned in the previous PGA Tour tips, the first major has now been concluded and Adam Scott took his first major, and Australia’s first Masters title. In terms of my tips that week, frustration was the key word, with both Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson showing some promise. Snedeker however was the key man in our bid for profit, and going into the final round he shared the lead with Angel Cabrera at -7. After birdieing the very first hole, I really thought we were in for a shot of only for Snedeker to collapse and eventually shoot +3 on the last day to share 6th place with Thorbjorn Olesen. This meant missing out on e/w profit by one shot and ending the week in disappointing fashion, meaning that doing well here at the Open De Espana is as important as ever.
Finally we return to Europe for a European Tour event, with Spain being the country to play host this week. Many home favourites are in the field this week, with Masters participants, Sergio Garcia and Fdez-Castano as well as the supposed return of Miguel Angel Jimenez from a broken leg, somewhat ahead of schedule. The event this week has often been moved around courses, and the Open De Espana has not been played here at the Parador de El Saler, Valencia, since 2001, where Robert Karlsson was victorious, there have been two Swedish winners since, Peter Hanson in 2005 & Niclas Fasth in 2006, Peter Hedlom also came close in 2003 & 2004 so Swedes have gone well in this event in the past and there are a few in the field this week who will take confidence from that. So what can the players expect from the course and what will need to be avoided in order to get the win here in Valencia.
The Course: Parador de El Saler, Par 72, 6945yds is a course in the third largest city in Spain, Valencia. The course itself is set next to the Mediterranean sea, which comes in to play on holes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 17 and 18, giving these parts of the course a links feel due to being exposed. The other holes on the course rung along a Mediterranean pine forest which players will look to avoid. Accuracy of the tee will be important this week as there are lots of trees and bushes that could pose an obvious obstruction to anyone wayward off the tee. Although the fairways are pretty wide the ground should be pretty firm on both the fairway and the greens so the accuracy will still be important when looking to score. The greens are considered quite undulating so putting will also be a key stat when getting the win here. Last years winner Francesco Molinari was 7th in Driving Accuracy overall last season hitting over 70% of fairways and that might be a rough percentage to look for when looking at players this week. Of course players do win when missing fairways, the best players in the world are often missing fairways but with accuracy on your side this week, it should put you in good stead.
Defending Champion: Francesco Molinari won the Open De Espana in 2012, albeit at a different course. The win here last season was his first for two years and led to seven other top 10 finishes for Molinari in what was a fine 2012, capped off by being part of the winning Ryder Cup team in Medinah. He won by three strokes, beating Alejandro Cañizares, Søren Kjeldsen and Pablo Larrazábal last season, but he doesn’t look to be in good shape to defend his crown in 2013. He tweeted earlier today saying “Having some problems with my lower back, I hope to play as defending champion, @DingersChiro doing his best to make it happen” This would suggest that even if he was to play this week, he certainly wouldn’t be at full fitness and after a disappointing Masters tournament last week I’m more than happy to avoid him.
So taking all this into account, I’m happy to take out the defending champion out of my plans with at any real worry and with three of the top 5 in the betting this week all playing at Augusta last week, it may be a week to take a look at some outsiders, that maybe you wouldn’t consider when these players are well rested. Those that lead the market are short favourite Sergio Garcia, who is widely available at 6/1 and at the price Sergio is another player I’m happy to leave out. Of course he is playing in his home country but his disappointing finish and somewhat lack of confidence shown at the Masters is enough to put me off at such short odds. Apart from Garcia and Molinari, Gonzalo Fdez Castano comes in at 18/1, Pablo Larrazábal at 22/1 and Matteo Manassero at 28/1. Anyone that follows my tips/Twitter will know I am a pretty big fan of Castano’s and I also like Manassero’s chances, especially at 28/1. Here is the group of players I fancy this week and I hope they can bring you some profit!
Matteo Manassero 28/1 ( General) 2pts e/w: Manassero has already won three proffesional events, impressive considering he turns 20 on Friday! His first win came in 2010 at the Castello Masters, which like this week was played in Spain, and on top of that he came T7 in his last time out here and T29 the year before that, so Spain seems to suit his game. Although Manassero missed the cut at Augusta last week I am not too worried about his game. He is not the longest hitter, and he doesn’t have to be at this course, Augusta however definitely favours bigger hitters off the tee. He has finished in the top-25 in 6 of his 8 events this year and consistency is a big part of his game. The young talent on the European Tour this season is very exciting with both Manassero and Thornjorn Olesen really impressing, Manassero’s only cut coming at Augusta and Olesen finsing T6 in his first outing at the Masters shows that they are a big part of this tour. Matteo is currently 28th in Driving Accuracy this season so he fits the bill this week in that aspect and his short game can be as good as most in the field this week when he is on his game. I fully expect him to be involved come the weekend, and what better way to celebrate your birthday than with another professional golf victory!
Anders Hansen 33/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Hansen is short, but looks to be a very interesting pick here this week. Hansen has already shown some form in 2013 coming T9 in his first event of the year, and a 3rd place finish last time out at the Malaysian Maybank Open. Add this too his past form in the event and you have yourself a very solid pick, his last two results in this event are, T16 and 2nd showing he doesn’t Spanish conditions. He is currently hitting 66.7% of fairways and if he can build on his last result on tour and his past form in the event he will certainly fancy his chances and hopefully the experienced Dane can live up to his price this week. I was a bit put off by his price but in the end I felt he was too good of a prospect to leave out and hopefully he can prove to me and everyone else why he was worth punting on!
Alejandro Canizares 90/1 (PaddyPower&StanJames) 0.5pt e/w: Canizares is not a player that I will tip very often, and not one of those players that would spring to most people’s minds, however Tour players often highlight an event they know they can do well in each year, and sometimes that’s enough for the player to go and perform to their best. The Open De Espana is Alejandro Canizares said event. His last three results in this event read, T2, MC, T3 and although he did miss the cut in between those two great results he will be keen to come back this year and show yet again what he can do on home soil. The son of former 5-time European tour winner and Ryder Cup member Jose Maria Canizares will be looking to one better this year and get his second tour victory, especially as his first and only win came in 2006. As I’ve said he’s not a stand out player on tour, but he has shown ability and obviously likes playing in Spain, he has shown that he can play in good company, coming T27 in The Open in 2010 and hopefully he can pose a threat this week!
Jorge Campillo 100/1 (General) 0.5pt e/w: Campillo, like Canizares is not going to be at the top of my thoughts when it comes to any other events, but when it comes to playing in Spain I think he’s worth considering. Campillo came T3 here last year after shooting a -4, 68 in the 1st round in 2012. As previously mentioned it’s hard to consider past form at the event because of the change in course, but with two decent finishes recently T24 and T40 plus his above average stats in both Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation, I think he offers good value at three-figure odds.
Points staked this week on European Tour: 8
Total points staked (including PGA tips): 17
Looking to get back on track this week, and what a great couple of events to do it at, the RBC Heritage and the European Tour’s oldest event. I’m hoping going against the favourites this week pays off and hopefully one of this group of players can be the one to beat them. Please as ever contact me on Twitter @TomJacobs8 for any comments/questions you may have!